Food for Life Get Togethers supports school community activities in Wales

Food for Life Get Togethers has recently awarded grants to 66 schools and pre-school settings across Wales, enabling them to take part in this year’s The Big Lunch.

Food for Life Get Togethers is a programme of regular community activities that connect people from all ages and backgrounds through growing, cooking and sharing good food. It is a 4-year National Lottery Community Fund programme that started in June 2019 and is led by the Soil Association Food for Life charity and delivered in Wales by Food Sense Wales.

Food for Life Get Togethers supports groups by inspiring them to become involved and through offering a range of resources, recipes, training, event planning tips, small grants and funding opportunities. This particular round of grants is focused on the The Big Lunch – an Eden Project Communities initiative celebrating community connections which encourages people to get to know each other a little better.

This year, The Big Lunch is kicking off a number of events taking place marking June as the Month of Community. The 66 projects that are being funded in Wales by Food for Life Get Togethers celebrate their local community and all offer a way of bringing people of all ages together – both in person and virtually.

The successful projects will all receive £150 enabling the schools to host a ‘good food’ Get Together in their community. The money can either be used for activity costs or equipment and the Get Togethers team looked specifically for projects that would bring people of different backgrounds and/or ages together to strengthen and connect communities through food growing, cooking and / or food sharing.

“Having the chance to get together and socialise whilst sharing fresh, healthy food or by growing or cooking food together can change people’s day to day lives for the better,” says Louise Shute, Programme Manager of Food For Life Get Togethers in Wales.

“We are delighted to support so many schools across Wales, enabling them to connect through food this summer.  After a difficult year, the importance of healthy food and spending time in a safe way with others has become so important,” adds Louise.

“The schools are so pleased to be able to bring people together in their community and the children are looking forward to preparing delicious food, with many using fruit and vegetables grown on site or locally.”

One of the schools successful in securing a Food for Life Get Togethers grant is Ysgol y Deri Special School in Penarth.

Ysgol y Deri’s Catering group will be preparing picnic boxes to share with the local community including: delivering boxes to residents at a local sheltered housing complex; to health workers at Llandough Hospital for a socially distanced outdoor picnic; to Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for a socially distanced outdoor picnic and to Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice for a socially distanced outdoor picnic in their grounds. Key workers who’ve supported the school throughout the pandemic are being invited to visit Ysgol y Deri’s garden for a socially distanced outdoor picnic too.

Milford Haven School in Pembrokeshire is also planning an event with the grant that it’s received. The school has a small group of pupils who head up a ‘Surfers Against Sewage’ group, promoting sustainability and environmental issues across its community.

The group will be using their grant to host a lunch to gather support and raise awareness for their cause. They will be hosting a Covid safe picnic style lunch outdoors, during which they hope to share what they have learnt and to role model positive behaviours – for example using reusable drinks bottles or wooden cutlery instead of plastic ones in their lunchboxes. Having a direct and positive impact on their local community and environment, the pupils see this lunch as an opportunity to showcase more sustainable alternatives to single use plastic packaging.

In Gresford, Wrexham, All Saints School will bring the local community together in a safe and controlled way to take part in an outdoor cookery session at its Forest School. The school plans to ensure that sustainable, local produce is used as part of the activity and hopes that the event will benefit its pupils as well as those in its wider community, including older residents.

And in the Rhumney Valley, Ysgol y Lawnt, a Welsh medium primary school will hold a picnic at the end of term to celebrate the way in which the school community has supported each other during a very difficult year of interrupted education. The picnic will be the culmination of many weeks of activities during which pupils in each bubble will have the opportunity to study the food of their chosen country. This will start with looking at ingredients, both familiar and unfamiliar – some of which will be grown on classroom window sills and others in the school vegetable garden. Simple to prepare, healthy recipes will then be created using these ingredients, which will be shared with parents and the wider community via the school website. On the day of their event, pupils will be able to safely view presentations by the other bubbles via their class interactive whiteboards before helping to prepare for their picnics.

The Food for Life Get Togethers vision is a world in which it’s normal for people of every age and every background to come closer together in their community, make new connections and be an active part in their local food system – and The Big Lunch and the Month of Community are great examples of this in action.

“We are so pleased that our latest round of grants is enabling us to help deliver 66 projects across the length and breadth of Wales,” adds Louise Shute. “It’s great to see so many different communities across Wales coming together to enjoy and celebrate good food.”